Diets and NutritionHealth and Fitness

Cashews: benefits and harms for the body of women and men, review by a nutritionist

Cashews: benefits and harms for the body of women and men, review by a nutritionist

Cashews have a low glycemic index and high fiber content. It is an excellent source of copper, magnesium and manganese – nutrients important for brain function, immunity and bone health. However, this product also has contraindications, which we talked to an expert about.

  • What is this
  • Calorie content
  • Benefit
  • Harm
  • Allergist advice
  • Cashews in cooking
  • How to choose and store correctly
  • Expert commentary

The material was commented on:

Maria Volchenkova is a nutritionist at Best Doctor, a clinical psychologist, an expert in working with DNA tests, a member of the European Union of Nutritionists, Dieticians and Food Industry Specialists;

Oleg Togoev – PhD, medical director of GMS CLinic, allergist-immunologist, pediatrician.

What is cashew

The nut grows on a “pseudoforuct”, which is also called a “cashew apple”. In fact, it is the receptacle that tastes sour

Cashew is the name of both the fruit and the tree of the Anacardiaceae genus of the Sumacaceae family. Its beneficial properties were first discovered by the Tikuna Indians, who lived in the territory of modern Brazil.

In the 16th century, Portuguese sailors brought cashews to India and Africa. The tree does well in warm and humid climates and is now grown in more than 30 countries.

Between the shell and the outer shell of the nut there is caustic anacardic acid, which, if it comes into contact with the skin, causes redness and even burns. Cashews are thoroughly cleaned and then pierced to evaporate any remaining resin. This is why the product is not sold in shell. The peeled cashew shell is not wasted: it is used to make brake pads for cars, and is used in the production of rubber, varnish and drying oil.

Cashew calories and nutritional value per 100 g

  • calories — 581
  • proteins – 5 g
  • fats – 12 g
  • carbohydrates – 9 g
  • dietary fiber – 1 g (1).

Benefits of cashews: 8 properties

Photo: cottonbro/Pexels

Cashews are especially rich in cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats. These nuts are high in copper, which helps in the absorption of important vitamins and minerals (2). The product also contains magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

Despite all the beneficial properties, it is important to remember that cashews are a fairly strong allergen. So you should be familiar with this product with great caution.

1. Strengthens the immune system

Cashews are a good source of antioxidants, particularly polyphenols and carotenoids (3). Antioxidants are molecules that help body cells recover, slow down the aging process, and strengthen the immune system (4). Moreover, roasted cashews have increased antioxidant activity (5).

The copper contained in the product also supports the body’s immunity. This microelement is involved in the formation of immune system cells – leukocytes.

2. Improves digestion

Dietary fiber plays an important role in maintaining a healthy diet (6). Due to their fiber content, cashews are a good remedy for preventing constipation. The product helps improve the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and maintains the normal composition of microflora (7).

3. Helps control weight

Photo: Jonathan Borba/Pexels

Many diets involve avoiding nuts, but comparative studies suggest that those who include cashews in their diet are more likely to maintain their figure and even lose extra pounds (8), (9).

Nuts are rich in protein and fiber, which keep you full and help you avoid overeating (10), (11), (12). Cashews contain almost as much protein as a serving of meat (13), (14).

4. Prevents Heart Disease

Research has shown that eating cashews more than four times a week can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 37% (15). These nuts help lower blood pressure and prevent hypertension (16).

5. May affect blood sugar levels

It is enough to eat 10 cashews a day so as not to worry about a lack of magnesium in the body

Thanks to their dietary fiber, cashews can help prevent spikes in blood sugar levels (17). The nut is also rich in magnesium (20% of the daily value), which enhances the cell response to insulin, which is responsible for the proper absorption of glucose (18), (19). A deficiency of this hormone can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

According to scientists, introducing foods high in magnesium into the diet reduces the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by 14% (20), (21). In another study, people with type 2 diabetes who ate 10% of their daily calories from cashews had lower insulin levels compared to those who did not eat cashews (22).

6. Stimulates brain function

The high copper content makes cashews an important food for normal brain development. This trace element supports brain health throughout life and provides antioxidant protection (23).

Copper deficiency is fraught with the development of diseases that impair brain activity, impair memory, and has a bad effect on the ability to remember new things and learn. Scientists have found that patients with Alzheimer’s disease are also deficient in copper (24).

7. Promotes strong bones

Copper, magnesium, and manganese are important nutrients that increase bone strength (25), (26), (27). A diet rich in these minerals is effective in preventing osteoporosis (28). The calcium contained in nuts also has a positive effect on bone health (29), (30).

8. Reduces the likelihood of anemia

Cashews are high in iron, an essential micronutrient in the production of red blood cells. They are responsible for delivering oxygen from the lungs throughout the body (31). A lack of red blood cells leads to iron deficiency anemia, but an iron-rich diet reduces the risk of developing this condition (32), (33).

Harm of cashews

Photo: Horizon Content/Pexels

Pay attention to the information on the packaging. Store-bought cashews may contain large amounts of added oils or salt.

Cashews also contain phytates, which can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. You can neutralize their effect by soaking the nuts overnight before adding them to food.

Could you be allergic to cashews: advice from an allergist

Cashews: benefits and harms for the body of women and men, review by a nutritionist

Nut allergies are one of the most common food allergies. In Europe, allergies to hazelnuts (hazelnuts) are most common, and less common to cashews. This is most likely due to the fact that this nut is rarely found in foods; we do not use cashew butter or flour to prepare various dishes. However, cashews are often used in desserts and sweets, Asian and Indian dishes, ready-made sauces and seasonings. It is recommended for an adult to eat no more than 12 cashew nuts per day, and for children over three years old – no more than five.

Cashew allergies can be combined with hypersensitivity to other types of nuts and foods. But, as a rule, the reaction manifests itself to one type of nut, but not to another. For example, you ate a walnut and an allergy began, but nothing happened from one or two pine nuts. The fact is that not all nuts are equally allergenic. Much depends primarily on their size.

People with nut allergies may also react to birch, stone fruits (apples, cherries, etc.), watermelon, and vegetables (celery or raw carrots). Cross-allergy to legumes does not usually occur.

Cashews in cooking

Mix cashews with other nuts or add chocolate to the dough

Mix cashews with other nuts or add chocolate to the dough

Cashews are easy to include in…

About author

Giovanna Pirri (Nutritional Biologist) Graduated in Biological Sciences with a thesis on the nutritional approach in the diabetic patient, she graduated with full marks in Health Biology at the University of Padua in 2008 . In 2011 she passed the State Exam and qualified for the profession of Nutritional Biologist . She obtained the Master in Human Nutrition in Milan, and remains constantly updated through characterizing courses on the universe of food. [email protected]